Earlier this month, Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) introduced a bill with potentially far-reaching and unprecedented implications for Israel’s ability to nix US weapons sales to the Middle East. H.R.8494, the Guaranteeing Israel’s QME Act of 2020, would mandate the president to consult the Israeli government “for information regarding Israel’s qualitative military edge” before the selling weapons to other Middle Eastern countries.
Everything still looks solid for the Israel lobby at the top of the Democratic Party this year. But if we view the party as a pyramid, with its apex being the presidential ticket, its middle layer being its elected officials, and its bottom layer being its base, then the foundations of the Israel lobby’s hold on the party is quite evidently crumbling.
The concerns of Palestinian-American delegates to the Democratic National Convention went unheeded earlier this week during the party platform drafting process. According to a document shared with Mondoweiss, DNC delegates expressed their outrage at the exclusion of Palestinian-American voices while pro-Israel lobbyists openly bragged about their efforts to strip out language critical of Israel.
Jamaal Bowman’s apparent victory over Eliot Engel is not a setback for the Israel lobby–it is a monumental collapse. Not only does it present an opportunity to better align Democratic policy-making toward Israel and the Palestinian people with the growing pro-Palestinian sentiments of the party’s base, but it also punctures the Israel lobby’s carefully cultivated mythology of invincibility.
With the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s passage of the United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2020 last week, the current Congress is now poised to enact with little transparency its most far-reaching bill related to Israel at the height of a national public health emergency.
Joe Biden is a throwback to a bygone era when Democrats and Republicans demonstrated equal fealty toward Israel and disregarded Palestinian rights altogether. A Biden administration would likely reflect that outmoded worldview.
A “Dear Colleague” letter was sent by more than 60 Democratic Representatives to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier this week seeking to hold Israel accountable for its massive demolition of Palestinian homes last July in the Wadi al-Hummus neighborhood in East Jerusalem.
Trump’s Executive Order empowering the federal government to crack down on campus organizing for Palestinian rights under the guise of combating antisemitism was not issued on a whim but as the culmination of a deliberate strategy to stifle pro-Palestinian solidarity. On the campaign trail, Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman menacingly pledged that “the Trump administration will ask the Justice Department to investigate coordinated attempts on college campuses to intimidate students who support Israel.”
The vote last week on H.Res.326 reveals Congress to be more divided than ever in its approach to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Almost all Republicans now back Israel’s one-state apartheid rule over the Palestinian people, whereas most Democrats still give lip-service to Palestinian statehood without being willing to pressure Israel toward this end. However, Josh Ruebner writes that things are changing for the better within the Democratic caucus as a few Representatives bravely challenge the two-state paradigm and test the waters for conditioning aid to Israel.
Major presidential candidates are now supporting conditioning US aid to Israel. Josh Ruebner says it is up to us to support these candidates’ steps in the right direction while at the same time acknowledging that none of them go nearly far enough. “With continued education, determined and strategic organizing and mobilizing, we will get them there,” Ruebner writes.